Round 26 Preview: Jets can cause unique F3 Derby pain as simultaneous games shape Premiership race

The FINAL round of the Isuzu UTE A-League season is upon us! Ahead of the action getting underway on Friday night, previews all six of the contests…

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Friday, 7:45pm (AEST): Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United

With both their finals hopes officially ended in Round 25, Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United will be playing for pride in their final clash of the season.

For the home side, it represents a good chance for Ruben Zadkovich to prove why he was the right man to succeed Ben Cahn at the club.

Initially taking over in an interim capacity after Cahn stepped aside in order to focus on his health, Zadkovich was officially appointed head coach on a two-year deal earlier this week.

The Roar defeated Adelaide 2-0 when they last met in the league back in December, snapping a seven-match winless run against them in the process, while Zadkovich’s side are also aiming to secure back-to-back wins against the Reds for the first time since March 2018.

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The good news for Adelaide is that Carl Veart’s side is undefeated in their last four league matches against Brisbane Roar in Queensland (W2 D2).

In terms of final league positions, Brisbane know a point against the Reds will be enough to see them secure 8th spot ahead of Adelaide given they currently sit on point clear.


  • Brisbane Roar: L – L – W – L – D
  • Adelaide United: W – W – W – L – D


  • Brisbane Roar: 8th
  • Adelaide United: 9th


  • Brisbane Roar FC (2.35 per game) and Adelaide United (2 per game) are two of the four teams to have been caught offside at least twice per game in the 2023/24 A-League Men season (Western Sydney Wanderers FC – 2.04 per game and Perth Glory – 2 per game).
  • Nestory Irankunda (Adelaide United) has made 14.7 metres per carry from 352 carries this A-League Men season, the most of any player in the competition (min. 30 carries).


Saturday, 5:15pm (AEST): Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners

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Fresh off securing their spot in the AFC Cup Final, Central Coast Mariners will now look to take an enormous step towards clinching the Premier’s Plate with a win in the F3 Derby.

With two games still to play in their season, Mark Jackson’s side know a win over the Jets at McDonald Jones stadium will move them back above Wellington at the top of the ladder before they then face Adelaide United in a re-arranged fixture next week.

However, should the Mariners lose at the home of their fiercest rivals and Wellington then defeat Macarthur in their simultaneous kick off at Sky Stadium then the ‘Nix will secure their first ever piece of silverware.

The Mariners are also likely to be nursing a few sore legs after their midweek 3-0 win over FK Abdysh-Ata Kant at Industree Group Stadium, a result which saw them book their spot in the AFC Cup Final care of a 4-1 aggregate victory.

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As for the Jets, they head into the contest full of motivation knowing a win against the Mariners could potentially scupper their rivals’ hopes of winning an unprecedented treble.

After a rough ride at the times this season, Rob Stanton’s side have enjoyed a strong finish to the campaign and are now unbeaten in their last four matches, picking up two wins along the way.

With 16 goals this season, striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos is now an outside chance of securing the Golden Boot but the Aussie’s form has been one of the highlights of the season for the Jets.

Finally, Jets legend Jason Hoffman will play his final game for Newcastle on Saturday as he prepares to the leave the club. In fitting fashion, the game will also represent Hoffman’s 300th appearance for Newcastle.


  • Newcastle Jets: L – D – W – W – D
  • Central Coast Mariners: W – L – W – W – W


  • Newcastle Jets: 10th
  • Central Coast Mariners: 2nd


  • Apostolos Stamatelopoulos (Newcastle Jets) has scored 14 big scoring chances this A-League Men season, the most of any player in the competition; he’s had 34 big scoring opportunities – five more than any other player in the campaign.
  • Central Coast Mariners have lost only one of their last 11 A-League Men matches away from Industree Group Stadium (W7 D3) – a 0-2 defeat against Sydney FC (30 March 2024); the Mariners have kept a clean sheet in eight of the 10 games in that span where they have avoided defeat, including each of the last six.


Saturday, 5:15pm (AEST): Wellington Phoenix v Macarthur FC

What an afternoon of football we have in store at Sky Stadium and there are sure to be plenty of fans watching both the Phoenix in stadium AND the Mariners game on their phones.

With both Premier’s Plate rivals in action at the same time, Wellington know all they can do is defeat Macarthur at home and hope for a favour from the Jets in at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Giancarlo Italiano’s side are currently a point clear at the top of the league – albeit having played a game more – but they know that if they beat the Bulls and the Mariners lose then they will be crowned Premiers for season 2023-24.

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However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Wellington should they fail to win. IF they were to lose to Macarthur then they would need the Mariners to lose both of their remaining matches against Newcastle (A) and Adelaide (H).

Furthermore, a point could also be good enough for the Phoenix to seal the Premiers Plate but again, they’d need the Mariners to pick up a maximum of one point from their remaining two games.

As for Macarthur, Mile Sterjovski’s side will arrive in Wellington full of motivation themselves following last weekend’s incredible 1-0 win over Sydney FC, a result achieved with NINE players.

Currently sat fourth on the ladder, Macarthur can guarantee themselves a top four finish and with it a home elimination final should they secure a point against the ‘Nix.


  • Wellington Phoenix: W – W – L – W – D
  • Macarthur FC: W – L – L – W – W


  • Wellington Phoenix: 1st
  • Macarthur FC: 4th


  • Wellington Phoenix have lost only one of their last eight A-League Men matches against Macarthur FC (W6, D1) – a 1-2 defeat in February 2023; the Phoenix have won their three meetings against the Bulls since then – their longest winning run against them in the history of the competition.
  • Macarthur FC have scored 36% of their total goals after the 76th minute of matches (16/45) in the 2023/24 A-League Men season, the highest rate of any team in the competition; only Sydney FC (7) have conceded fewer goals during this period than Wellington Phoenix (8) in the campaign.


Saturday, 7:45pm (AEST): Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers

The final game on Saturday evening sees Melbourne Victory host a desperate Western Sydney Wanderers side at AAMI Park.

For Victory the objective is a clear one: a win over the Wanderers will guarantee them a third placed finish and with it a home elimination final against the team who finishes sixth – meaning we could have a potential Melbourne Derby on our hands in the Finals Series.

Melbourne Victory defeated Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4-3 when they last met in the A-League Men (10 December 2023), snapping a four-match winless run against them (D1 L3); the Victory will be aiming for back-to-back wins against the Wanderers for the first time since April 2019.

As for the Wanderers, last weekend’s agonising 2-1 home defeat to Melbourne City means the club slipped out of the top six for just the second time this season with one game left to play.

That defeat to their direct rivals means they now sit two points behind City on the ladder meaning they must win their final game of the season and hope City lose to Western United if they are to seal a spot in the finals.

Currently on a three-game losing streak, the odds are heavily stacked against the Wanderers when they travel to Victoria however they will regain top scorers Nicolas Milanovic and Lachlan Brook from Olyroos duty.


  • Melbourne Victory: D – W – W – L – D
  • Western Sydney Wanderers: W – W – L – L – L


  • Melbourne Victory: 3rd
  • Western Sydney Wanderers: 7th


  • Melbourne Victory have lost only one of their last six A-League Men matches (W3 D2) – a 0-1 defeat against Wellington Phoenix (12 April 2024); although, the Victory have conceded a clean sheet on the day in each of their last two games in that span (D1 L1) – the last time they were kept scoreless in more consecutive games was a three-match span in October 2022.
  • Western Sydney Wanderers FC have won three of their last four A-League Men matches outside New South Wales (L1), as many as they won across their 26 games outside their home state prior to that span (W3 D10 L13).


Sunday, 3:00pm (AEST): Sydney FC v Perth Glory

By the time 3pm on Sunday afternoon rolls around Sydney FC will know whether or not a top four finish is still viable.

In order to finish fourth and book themselves a home elimination final, the Sky Blues require Macarthur to lose away at Wellington and they then need to beat bottom side Perth Glory at home in order to finish ahead of the Bulls by virtue of having more wins.

Should that happen then Sydney would host Macarthur at Allianz Stadium in the first week of finals however there is still a chance the Sky Blues could finish as low as sixth, given a loss for Ufuk Talay’s side coupled with a win for Melbourne City would see them drop a place on the ladder.

The good news is Sydney FC have lost only one of their last 13 A-League Men matches against Perth Glory (W8 D4, inc. penalty shootouts) – a 1-2 loss in January 2022 – and the Sky Blues are undefeated in their five meetings since then (W3 D2).

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As for Perth Glory, well Alen Stajcic’s team are now officially the not-so-proud owners of the Wooden Spoon for season 2023-24 after last weekend’s 4-3 loss to Western United at home condemned them to a bottom-placed finish.

However on a more positive note, club captain Adam Taggart has enjoyed a fine season in front of goal and with 19 goals to his name, currently leads the Golden Boot standings ahead of Melbourne VIctory’s Bruno Fornaroli (18) with one game left to play.


  • Sydney FC: W – D – L – W – L
  • Perth Glory: L – D – L – L – L


  • Sydney FC: 5th
  • Perth Glory: 12th


  • Sydney FC are undefeated in their last six A-League Men matches at Allianz Stadium (W4 D2) and have won each of their last two games there, conceding no more than a single goal in any of those six games.
  • Perth Glory have won only one of their last 23 A-League Men matches outside Western Australia (D6 L16) – a 2-1 victory against Western Sydney Wanderers FC (20 January 2024); the Glory have conceded 3.1 goals per game across their last eight games in that span (W1 D2 L5).


Sunday, 5:00pm (AEST): Melbourne City v Western United

Melbourne City may well have secured a finals spot before they’ve kicked a ball against Western United on Sunday.

Last weekend’s gargantuan win over the Wanderers means Aurelio Vidmar’s side will secure their spot in the top six should Western Sydney Wanderers lose away to Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.

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In fact, should the Wanderers beat Victory then City can still book a ticket to the finals with just a draw against Western given the fact their goal difference is vastly superior to that of Western Sydney.

Already no doubt confident of getting the result needed against their Victorian opponents, Vidmar and Co will also be buoyed by the fact they’ve won four of their last five A-League Men matches against Western United FC (L1), after going winless across their five meetings in the competition prior to that span (D1 L4).

As for Western United, last weekend’s win over Perth Glory ensured they can’t finish bottom of the league this season and they’ll now be hoping to finish as high as 10th; a possibility if they win their game and Newcastle either draw or lose against the Mariners.

Finally, Western United FC have gained 16 competition points from losing positions in the 2023/24 A-League Men season, the joint-most of any team in the campaign and 10 more than Melbourne City FC (6).


  • Melbourne City: W – D – L – W – L
  • Western United: L – D – L – L – L


  • Melbourne City: 6th
  • Western United: 11th


  • Melbourne City FC have scored eight goals from high turnovers in the 2023/24 A-League Men season, the joint-most of any team in the competition (also Perth Glory – 8); they have had 42 shots via this method, six fewer than Western United FC (48 shots, 4 goals from high turnovers).
  • Western United FC have lost only one of their last five A-League Men matches in Victoria (W2 D2), despite conceding at least two goals in each of their last four games in that span.